Crazy horse memorial South Dakota

It’s 5 am, sun is barely rising, a young married couple and a group of friends on the way to Portland Oregon stop on the side of the road and look at a partially completed very distant monument that was rumored to be something special.  They snap a 35mm picture, joke about the cost of parking and take off down the road. With out giving it much of a 2nd thought.

This was Gail and my first experience at Crazy Horse. 10 years ago completely in our ignorance we didn’t spend the time or money to visit.This time with with similar levels of ignorance we planned to just stop by to take some pictures because we had the money to park. Getting out of the car I said “lets just head in and we can take off quick…. no more than an hour right?”  “Sounds good” said Gail as we headed in.

As we entered we were greeted by some nice ladies who pointed out some stuff that I ignored as we were rushing the youngest to the bathroom again.  Something about a Jr. Scout program at the info desk.  That might be fun I thought as we rushed off. As we were heading down the hall to the bathroom I caught a glimpse of the main room … IT was huge!  I started to wonder if maybe there wasn’t something more.  Maybe it wasn’t just some unfinished monument.

The more we looked around the more we taken captive by the information that surrounded us.  Something deep began to set in, driven by the content of the message, the scale of endeavor and emotion of their story.  Perhaps we felt it more than most because of faint ancestral ties, or maybe this was one of those moments where I actually began to hear some truth; not just that this was a monument that was unfinished but the entire endeavor was about a people marginalized, treaded on and unjustly treated.

The basic story is this: A man dedicated his life to honor a promise and his family is carrying on the legacy. A people desire to show their heritage and honor their ancestors. There is a pain felt by this people for the loss of something spiritual and sacred.

While I would like to think I could paint this story with words and give enough detail to make you understand, I know that I can’t, so at this time I’m not going to try any further. Instead, I want you to go and experience it.

Its easy in our culture to spend our way through lifes events. You can do that here too if you choose.  There is a large gift store, unique paintings, a place to eat and lots to buy.   For them it is good for you to spend your money there since this is a privately funded endeavor. However don’t let the consumerist spirit be the driving factor for your visit.

When you go plan to take a full day, bring money for lunch and snacks.  Plan to for a bus ride, plan to take some pictures, plan to buy a trinket or two or some art, and plan to open your eyes.


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